Like with physical stores before them, the race to innovate on virtual store experiences is on.
Since the pandemic hit, Nars, Charlotte Tilbury and Dior have launched virtual stores, so it was only a matter of time before virtual pop-ups arrived. Lancôme is testing the strategy for its Advanced Génifique franchise of three products in the U.S. On April 17, the L’Oréal-owned brand launched a virtual pop-up that features Lancôme international scientific director Dr. Annie Black, dermatologist Dr. Camille Howard and master trainer Annie Howard. Within the pop-up, Lancôme’s product pages, videos, games and skin quiz will be featured, and will direct consumers to purchase the Advanced Génifique series.
The project has been in the works since October 2020, and was informed by Lancôme’s global counterpart team in France. It was updated to have a U.S. focus, said Kelly Thomspon, svp of pr and communications at Lancôme. Lancôme previously launched its first global immersive VR retail experience in Singapore that ran in August and September last year. Nikki Semel, senior manager of omni-marketing and communication, said she expects consumers to spend 5-7 minutes engaging in the pop-up.
“We wanted to turn this shop into an experience, beyond product pages or descriptions, and bring it to a Western audience,” said Semel. “We thought it was super important that we made a woman feel powerful, like our serum [Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate] does. So that’s why we have the education and engaging moments talking about mind strength and body strength [through] beauty.”
To show and not just tell, Lancôme offered consumers the chance to try its promoted serum through digital sampling. The brand started offering this to shoppers online in 2020, said Semel. While she did not disclose the cost of the pop-up or the cost of the samples being offered, she said the exercises have been extremely targeted. “Because, of course, it can get very expensive, we focus [sampling] on our pillar products, and offer it to people who come to virtual experiences and want to learn more about the brand.”
Lancôme has been marketing the event through its Coming Soon landing page, accessible via its homepage; two emails via its loyalty database; select influencers like Yasmin Maya, Amanda West, Leena Snoubar and Laura Beverlin; and two SMS opt-ins. Through the newer text feature, shoppers are also alerted to new product launches.
Though Lancôme has not decided if it will do future VR stores for products, Semel did underscore that VR stores and online are the “flagship” manifestations of the brand. In company earnings, announced this week, Lancôme was highlighted for driving sales within L’Oréal Luxe’s division; that segment saw a 12.4% increase in sales to $3.3 billion. Overall, the conglomerate saw a 5.4% jump in sales to $9.1 billion for first quarter of 2021.